tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN June 28, 2014 7:00am-8:01am EDT
to please use the parliamentarians before the cite a point of order. we now go to the gentleman from florida, mr. sanchez, for five minutes. >> commissioner, have reviewed dave kamp's letter he sent to the irs. >> i have not. i only saw it this afternoon briefly. >> this is -- so he writes a letter, lois lerner's hard drive crashes ten days later, you're in charge of ther is and is you haven't reviewed that letter? >> i scanned that letter. i'm not doing the investigation of what happened around -- >> that letter requested that e-mail records be preserved, and turned over to the committee, the ways and means committee, and according to your testimony, when her hard drive crashed they never went to the backup servers to retrieve her e-mails. >> they never went to the backup tapes. >> exactly. >> the backup server is different. there's no backup server. there's a serve that operates the e-mail. >> and the tapes they're stored
on offsite, they never got the e-mails back. even though congress requestedded it, the irs didn't care and didn't go the extra mile to get thosement you testified last week that you knew there was a problem, february 2014 with lois lerner's e-mails. >> i was advised there was an issue. >> in mid-march, the irs, according to your testimony, learned additional facts about her mysterious computer crash. >> that's correct. >> then you testified at this committee at the end of march, and you promised this committee, dowdy, gordon issa, everyone, get us lois lerner e-mails, you said, yes, we'll do it. you never mention, you never disclose that there were real problems about whether you were in fact going to be able to turn over those e-mails. correct. >> at that time i did not know there were real problems -- >> meet what you told dave camp. in february -- this is page six of your testimony last week -- in february, what we knew was there was a problem because we
were looking at it from the standpoint of where, what time frame her e-mails appeared and it appeared there were not enough e-mails in that time frame. so, in mid-february, you had reason to believe that you were short of e-mails, and that critical time frame, per your testimony last week. correct? >> when i say, we, the review team did that. i knew simply there was a problem in the way the e-mails were spread throughout the time frame. did not know the details of it. >> your testimony said, we, meaning the irs. >> the irs. >> now you're saying you did not know that so you were -- even though you're the commissioner you're not in the loop. here's the issue. >> good. >> going back and forth with you at the march hearing and you basically told him, we will get leadershipper's e-mails they're stored in servers -- what you said -- now, my question for you is, why say that if you knew, one there was a problem with lerner e-mails and, two, you knew the backup tapes were only
saved for six months. why tell chafen you could retrieve it. >> at that time we had pulled all of the e-mails from her hard drive and put them in a server system known as clearwell; it's pool. it has -- >> i understand that. your testimony -- there was reason in mid-february there were not enough e-mails so whatever pool you head, the time period in question of the computer crash, you testified there was a possibility that this was coming up short. so the question is, you made a choice that you testified not disclose this back to congress. you have been asked, when did you know for sure there were e-mails. you said april. when in april, you said, april, and wouldn't get anymore definitive. and you were advised not to disclose it -- >> did not say i was not -- >> why didn't you disclose.
>> we needed to find out the facts and the details and when we found those we would give you all the information. my experience, acomplained last month, we did provide information that we had just learned that day. our staff did. that we have custodians who had lost -- hard drive crashes -- >> i understand that -- >> -- immediately thereafter people leaped to conclusions in the press released that turned out to be wrong. >> i think you have a duty of candor to congress and the american people and you had some reason to believe there would be issues with producing her e-mails in your march testimony. you have admitted it with ways and means there were issues. now, either you -- maybe you weren't kept up or maybe you weren't following closely enough. i don't know. but i think this is very important because the average taxpayer looks at this and if they're in a situation where they can't produce documents, they are presumed guilty, period, end of story. it's not even a question. and yet the irs is in a situation where they can say, well, we had a computer crash,
the probability of that is very small, as mr. massey indicated. just so happened to happened ten days after dave camp asked for information. and so i don't think that the american people are satisfied with this and with all due respect i don't think your testimony will be satisfactory to those who have real concerns about whether we're going to get to the bottom of what happened with the irs. i yield back. >> can i make just one point? >> it's the practice of the committee to always let a witness answer a question if there's a question penning. the gentleman may answer. >> i appreciate. this is just a statement i want the public to be confident about and that its when we're dealing with taxpayers and if they can't produce a record, we are open to their producing other evidence that would be consistent with that. so if somebody said we lost e-mails, we reconstructed 24,000 of them, we would take that into consideration and there's a legal precedent that says if your actions and the evidence generally produces support for what you say happened, even if you don't have the documents, that's acceptable. so the idea that if you have lost the document it means you have lost the case with the irs,
that is incorrect. we actually will work with taxpayers, trying to make sure that they have supporting information of any kind. our notices out to corporations say, here's what we like in documents but if you haven't got them all, you have something close to that, give us other inflammation, we'll take that. i just want the record to be clear. >> we reside be happy to accept whatever alternatives you can produce to show what -- >> the gentleman's time is expired. commissioner, the good news is there aren't too many members left for the second round. so, this should be fairly brief. >> i liked it in the old days where you only had one round. >> how old is that. >> must be very old. >> well, we'll try to be fairly short. mr. cummings. >> let me say this. i really thank you. i thank you from the depths of my heart.
for taking on this task. i cannot begin to tell you how pained i feel listening to all of this. you know, when you got up first and has given what you have given, and have been brought into difficult circumstances, and i don't know how old you are, but you know, at my age i began to stop and think about my own mortality. and think about my reputation. first of all, i want to thank you for being who you are. i want too thank you for giving a damn. and caring about our country. some of the statements made here
today make it look like you just coming up here, trying to fool people. when under republican and democratic administrations, you have been highly regarded. i've said it before and i'll say it again, we're better than that. we're a better country than that and we're a better committee than that. you know, when i read -- reviewed the irs employees interviews, you know what they said? very interesting. they said something similar to what you said. they said, they were constantly asked about their party affiliation and that kind of thing. some of them were republican,
some were democrats, one even described himself as a very conservative republican. but you know what they said? they said they left their party hat at the door. you know why? because they wanted to make sure when they went in there, and did their jobs, that they did it in a way that was fair to all americans. and so, yeah, there are issues, but sometimes i sit here and listen to all of this, and somebody asked me about this committee the other day. they said if you were to leave the committee today, what would you most regret? i said i would mourn for what could have been. i would mourn for what could have been.
we are a committee of oversight and government reform. and i'm glad that the irs took the nonrecommendations of the ig, who, by the way, was appointed by republicans -- the same ig that said, no white house involvement. but we just push the facts over there and let's get to -- he's coming up here, let's see what we can do to him. but you know what? after the hearing is over, i care about your reputation. i care about what people think of you and i really mean that. i don't want a moment to go by without you knowing that i appreciate you coming into this
institution, giving it the best you got, and then having to come in here and go through this hell. and next i would say everything was done perfectly. i don't think anybody up here is perfect. all of us have had problems. as i say to my constituents, all of us are the walking wounded and if we aren't the walking wounded we just keep on living. and so, i want to thank you very much, and by the way, if there was any kind of inappropriate criteria, i have said it before, i have a problem with that, with regard to conservatives. i also have a problem with regard to progressives and anybody else. and i'm sure i speak for all our members when i say -- i really do thank you. with that yield back. >> thank the gentleman.
the gentleman from ohio is next in seniority. >> i thank the chairman. look, i agree with the ranking member. we're all imperfect. we all are in need of god's grace, and we do appreciate the public servants who work hard every day on behalf of the american people. but i will tell you something. i also care about the thousands of people who were denied their first amendment rights when this targeting scheme took place. i care about people like katherine ingle brat arebrat who was visited six times by the fbi after she applied for tax exempt status, had her personal and business finances audited by ther is are for previous two years, got visited by osha and we're concerned about getting to the truth. mr. koskinen you testified several times tonight, you knew there were problems in march, came in front of this committee, didn't disclose to us, then
someone -- the reason you said you didn't disclose is because this was so important, so critical, that you get all the information, get all the facts, all the information, and then give it to us. correct? you wanted to get the full story before you went public with this. >> i remind you when i testified here in march i had no idea whether there was a serious problem or not. i knew there was an issue jew you now there had been a crash of her computer. it's in your testimony. but your testimony is you wanted to get all the facts before you went public. right. >> yes. >> you thought that was important. >> yes. >> gift all the information. >> yet. >> and yet, one of your believe employees told the treasury and the white house in early april -- >> i'm -- >> whoa, whoa. if it was so important, so critical to get the full picture before this information got out, why didn't you tell all the people who work in your agency, we're not going to say anything,
we're not going to communicate about this, until we get the full picture. why didn't you give that instruction to -- if it's so critical you can't share with congress, you waited two months after you knew in april there were lost e-mails, if it's that important, why didn't you tell your employees, don't talk about this, don't tell the white house counsel, don't tell the treasury counsel. why didn't you give that instruction? >> because i didn't think that if somebody actually told anyone -- i didn't tell them they shouldn't tell this committee. i set forward a program in which i said we need to find all of the facts, pull it together and make a public disclosure, which is what we did. >> that's not what happened, mr. koskinen. the chief counsel of treesry knew about it and talked to the chief counsel at the white house in april, right after you found out about it. that's what we're concerned about. all i'm saying is if it's so important i think pro-active leader, good manager, would say,
hey, let's get to the truth first, get all this. let's not communicate this. let's tell everyone at the same time. let's tell congress -- if it's okay to tell the white house, whew isn't it okay to tell the people's house? >> the white house is not going to do what -- the ways and means committee did with the information with gave them piecemeal, they're not going to make a big issue until the facts are out. >> maybe because the white house is the same party? right? could that have anything to do with it. >> i have no idea but i stress again -- >> the facts are the facts. >> the facts -- >> treasury knew, white house knew in april, we didn't know until late june. >> no one at the irs talked to the white house. >> how did they find out? >> pardon. >> how did they find out? >> i'm told by the people who read the white house letter, the white house found out from treasury. nobody from the irs talked to the white house. >> someone from the irs talked to treasury, then. >> that's what i understand. >> as i said before, we'd like to know who that person is.
i hope you'll find out. can you make a commitment you will find out who those individuals were work who talked to the treasury, chief counsel, who then talked to the white house two months before the people's house got the same information? can you make that commitment? >> i'll do my best. >> well. i yield back. >> will the gentleman yield? >> i yield. >> i appreciate you finding out. it would save us the trouble of going to through all the people you. said, and i'm paraphrasing, maybe the white house wouldn't release it the way ways and means released a document. is that right? >> yes. in other words, my experience has been, in this issue, that any information that comes out piecemeal immediately gets an overreaction to it. >> so -- well, your overreaction is your statement. the i if have is, hasn't the white house selectively leaked documents in the past. >> i'm not involved in those issues. >> probably read "the wall street journal" and "new york
times" or the "washington post." isn't it true the white house does put out piecemeal documents that favor them when they get them, and hold back ones when they don't? >> i'm not familiar with what the white house activities are. >> i guess i'll wait for my own time but i must admit i'm a little insulted to hear the white house is trustworthy and congress isn't in your opinion. the gentleman from nevada is recognized. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's kind of interesting how positions change over time because looking back on some of the records, it appears that when the bush white house lost millions of e-mails related to the leak of covert cia agent valerie plame's identity, and the u.s. attorney firing this same committee held a hearing in 2008. at that hearing chairman issa
said this, and i quote: i think it is fair that we recognize that software moves on and that our cifing in -- archiving in the digitat aim is not as easy at as it may seem to the congress. at the same hearing chairman issa talked about how congress needs to provide more funding to agencies can improve their archiving and says the house of representatives needs to make sure you are funded and that is part of what we do in oversight. funded to deal with ever-evolving technologies where archiving isn't just putting them away, it is being able to retrieve it. now it appears that chairman issa's perspective has changed. with respect to the loss of miss lerner's e-mails he believes the loss of her e-mail is evidence of, quote, nefarious conduct. chairman issa has repeatedly
stated this assertion, but yet said something completely different in a previous hearing. commissioner, as far as you can tell, the only difference between the statements chairman issa made in 2008 and the statements he made now, is that there was a republican administration then, and that there's a democratic administration now. the fact is that the irs and many other federal agencies have struggled to improve their electronic record retention for years. gao, the national archivists, and others, have been reporting on these problems repeatedly. so, i have a main question that i'd like to ask, commissioner, and that's, what can you do to explain to this committee the steps that are being taken to restore the public's trust in
the irs and the functions that it provides to the american people in this regard to the data and the protection of that data. >> we are reviewing all of our activities. i've asked for this sometime ago to see if at a minimum we couldn't create an electronic record system that would be more searchable, we have spent close to $18 million and $20 million trying to produce documents as quickly as we can and e-mails as quickly as we can because of the archaic system that requires to us go to 90,000 individual hard drives or in this case 83 custodian individual hard drives. we're going to continue to do that. the archivists last year made a recommendation that as a way to begin to do this we take the top 35, called the capstone proposal. i'm sure you'll testify tomorrow about it. that is a start, recognizing the costs that we delve systems with the top 35 people in the agency,
where they're records are automatically electronically put into a records system as the first step, and we're going to take a look at that, which would obviously be less expensive than trying to archive the entire agency's records. but i do think it's important for us to preserve official records, it's important for history, it's important for people to understand the basis on which we make decisions, and we're going to continue to do that. we are constrained. the issue is, how we spend our money is an important issue, but it is in a situation where we have substantially fewer funds than we had four years ago, 10,000 fewer employees, and substantially increased responsibilities, but it is an important issue for us to consider and we're going to do that. >> thank you, commissioner. again, i want to commend you. i say often on this committee, we are the oversight committee and also the government reform committee. and i would like to hear your recommendations as we move
forward on how we put those recommendations in place, and what this committee can do to support you in those endeavors. it's one thing to have as many hearings as we have had without any substantiated evidence to suggest continuing, but to not have one hearing on how we can implement any of the recommendations to improve the system, i think is a flaw in the way this committee is managed, and, mr. chairman, i know my time is up but under rule nine, sub a., i think that the chairman needs to ensure that there is equal time given to each side and that members should not have their mics cut off and then members in the majority allowed to speak well over their permitted time. >> we now go to mr. massey for five minutes, or such time, subless he may consume. >> thank you.
>> not required to use the full five minutes. >> is not required but seldom yielded back. >> really depends on the answers. i'm going to try and be short, and i really appreciate your patience and your stamina here tonight. so i'll be short with this question. on june 3, 2011, ways and means chairman dave camp, sent the irs a letter demanding to explain the allegations of targeting tea party and other conservative groups. he also requested that the e-mails be provided or preserved. within ten days lois lerner's hard drive crashed. we know her hard drive crashed because we know this for sure because it was a ticket filed with the i.t. department. is that correct? for a repair? >> that's correct. >> could you provide us with all of the tickets filed in the month of june, 2011, at the irs for failed hard drives? >> yes. >> thank you very much. i yield back. >> would the gentleman yield? >> yes. >> i thank the gentleman.
we are nearing the end but there will be -- i'll need a few more minutes to so i want to be brief but i want to be thorough. miss lerner you didn't know, you say you never met her. my understanding from the reports the hard drive that failed was on her laptop. is that correct? >> i'm not familiar. i know nicole flax's travel computer is where the hard drive failed north her office computer. i'm assuming in light of where the archives went it was her office computer where the hard drive failed. >> i want to understand from to a procedural standpoint, employees of the irs download e-mails which may include 6103 information, to their laptops and leave the building with them. that's correct. >> a number of employees, their office commuter is in fact a laptop. >> and as a result, when they leave the office, they take with them e-mails that may include 61 other 3 information. -- 6103 information.
>> that's possible, yes. >> to your knowledge are laptops, in the irs, universally limited so they may not employ usb drives? >> they are now. there was -- as i understand the situation some years ago, in which they were -- well, guess what i should say is years ago usb drives, thumb drives, were usable that were not encrepted and there was an issue that came to my attention where fortunately no information was misused by the public. since that time, which is several years ago, all thumb drives are encrypted, so that if a thumb drive is lost, nobody can access the data. >> i appreciate that, congress has implemented a similar thing. but we also can go by a best buy normal thumb drive. so if lois lerner's laptop was in tact -- or other laptops or office computers -- had the usb
on any of them that downloaded information, including 6103 information to their local drives could have in fact moved them to usb based external drives or thumb drives of their own purchase. , that? >> that sounds right. i don't know what the equipment looked like three years ago but i assume that sounds right. >> so, for the american people, it is very possible, and in fact probable, that every day, individuals leave the irs with personally final information covered under 6103 on their hard drives, inside laptops that they take home, on trips to conferences and the like. >> that's correct, to the extend of my knowledge. i may be creeked when i get back -- may be corrected when i get back. >> that means in fact, lois lerner, an attorney, may have made a copy of information on her hard drive that died and she could have it on a usb product
or any kind of product, but normally a ubs based thumb drive or external hard drive you have no reason to know she couldn't have done that. >> that's correct. >> so, in fact, lois lerner may have made copies of this before the failure of her computer to your knowledge, when the department of justice questioned lois lerner was she asked any of those questions. >> i have no idea. >> to your knowledge, did she have a ubs or any other product that could have taken copies off of her computer? >> i have no knowledge she did. >> to your knowledge, did she also have a laptop or dual purpose computer she took home with her or left the building with. >> i don't know. >> okay. i would now ask unanimous -- let me rephrase that. one more. you have 90,000 computers that basically use their local hard drives to store information,
e-mails, instead of on the server, because after so many days it disappears off of -- after half a year they disappear off the server. is that right. >> no. no. the server will keep your e-mails until you get to 6,000 and then you get a notice saying you have to either archive them or delete them. the backup tapes that preserve information for six months are separate. the server, you may have e-mails on your server for five years if you don't -- >> if you don't let the number. >> don't hit the 6,000. >> obviously lois lerner with tens of thousands did. i now recognize myself for my own time. continuing on, i spend a lot time in the electronics industry so i have a bit of a passion for this. are you aware that if you back up your systems every six months, that the cost that we would be looking at for what it would have cost to have backed
>> i served on this committee and this room in that position. when henry waxman because the bush white house conversion from lotus notes to windows exchange server microsoft exchange server failed to have good backups and they used their image backups at a cost of a great deal of money to restore countless e-mails so that the presidential records act, the federal records act would be fully maintained. do you have any recollection of those those those hearings about activity? >> i do not. >> to this committee's briefings mr. waxman did not care that cost an estimated $24 million to recover every single one of those e-mails. this committee aggressively said they had to do it and they did image backing restorations. had you done image backups and retain them prior to your arrival but had the irs done it
would have cost probably tens of thousands of dollars to maintain six or seven years worth of those and we wouldn't be having this same discussion today would we? >> it costs a lot of money to get the e-mails off of those recovery tapes that that's right. if we had family could then spend the millions of dollars it would take to pull it off the disaster recovery tapes that is not what the disaster cover recovery tapes are meant to do. >> what is interesting is the disaster recovery tapes, the reason they cost so much to the white house is they wanted every e-mail retained a recovery. we only wanted lowest learners. i would like to enter into the record now a document given must do by the national archives and i will show it because it's a little hard to see but there we go. it's a little hard to read from here. >> i will read you just a piece of it.
andrew jackson of the state of tennessee, the first day of december 1799 is still complaining through congress and this is from essentially a congressional record where he petitions united states congress in 1803 to recover and it started in 1801 with an affidavit for his loss of revenues paid in 1799 because the stills burned after they collected a revenue in advance for his hundreds of gallons of liquor. i only put that in the record for one reason. the national archives and archivists will be with us tomorrow, and maintains an amazing amount of documents and recovers documents. now andy jackson, general
jackson's still may not be anything but humorous this late at night but it's part of a wealth of information that the american people have access to just across the street. your agency came here and said on a $1.8 billion budget you do this tonight and that in fact he needed more money if you were going to maintain records. i would certainly hope that we would go back and scrub that $10 million in order to do x and in order to do y that you go back and you really ask within the best practices whether or not for your cio to meet the requirement of the national archives having access to the kind of information, the wealth of information they need, working with the national archives you could do it for a reasonable price. mr. worse for it was correct, i've been a big believer that in
fact maintaining for the american people the transparency not just what's mr. cummings and i are doing here tonight but for the next generation and generations beyond as much information as we possibly can as an obligation. earlier mr. desjarlais -- desjarlais essentially doing arithmetic looked at that printout and later turned over to the national archives paper. i strongly suggest that this committee and hugh, you for your agency in this committee for all of the government really take a look at how much less expensive it is to maintain it digitally too delivered digitally so that it can be machine searchable for the next generation and in fact be of benefit to all of us. lastly i'm going to guess that out of the $111 per employee's computer because that's what $10 million is, you could easily
have covered that expense, that 10 million-dollar expense by simply downgrading those local drives because in fact there's very little reason for them to have large local drives. lastly and i'm going to close with this. you are familiar with the interrogatories we sent some 50 questions. >> saturday afternoon. >> 48 hours before the hearing. you are aware for the most part there was no response other than a short oral briefing this afternoon in which presentations were made that were not part of the interrogatories. >> it's a little hard to get everybody together on sunday even though it is counted as the 48 hours. >> we got your request at 4:30. >> understand that but there were eight hours. the question we have for the
most part in the questions we should have asked them they should have been answerable immediately there will be some additional questions that i will send interrogatories to you. they will ask you in the agency if he can figure out whether was the first of april that you learned about the real loss of documents for seven days after you testified or 30 days after two narrow down april and to narrow down who told you about it. there obviously is the question of how the white house came to know why congress was never informed about these losses of documents until your seven page letter. for that purpose we will now recess. if unable to get the interrogatories interrogatories in the follow-up calls done in a timely fashion and will be pleased to adjourn this but for now we are recessing subject to recall. we stand in recess.
>> in the fourth of a five-part look at hollywood directors that made movies for the u.s. during world war ii, we feature william wyler and "thunderbolt." it is about a squadron of fighter planes stationed in italy. he also directed the popular world war ii documentary, "the memphis belle." we speak to author and film historian mark harris. >> a new book out, "five came back: a story of hollywood and the second world war," by mark harris.